Elyn Saks: A Tale of Mental Illness–From Inside

An amazing video worth sharing. A look of Elyn’s experience of living with Schizophrenia. She makes three great claims at the end of this video. Please watch & notice the strength-based language that supports the empowerment of individuals’ recovery.

Check out Elyn’s novel: “The Center Will Not Hold” for additional insight into her experiences.

Advertisements

Two Mental Health Resources to Check Out

Mental health is a topic that isn’t going to go away.

The needs for mental health services will not disappear; nor will they be silenced by the stigma that is prevalent in our society.

I was to bring attention to two resources that encourage the sharing of personal stories about mental illness and mental health. The two resources are OK2Talk (ok2talk.org) in California, USA and Walk In My Shoes (walkinmyshoes.ie) in Ireland.

Ok2Talk is a resource for pre-teens, adolescents, and transitional age youth (18-26 years old) that provides the opportunity for them to share their stories and experiences of mental illness with the world. Reading the stories, you will notice the strength, resiliency, and courage of these young people. This site is a wonderful example of the implementation of the Recovery Model that I have discussed in previous blog entries. Hope is threaded throughout all, if not most, of the stories shared. The knowledge that one is not alone in the battle they are facing with symptoms of mental illness, or even the daily struggles of a young/emerging adult, creates a sense of community among the writers. OK2Talk also provides access to immediate counseling services through their hotline 1-800-273-TALK and providing a link to MentalHealth.gov. MentalHealth.gov provides a larger database of hotlines and resources for those seeking help.

The agencies that are supporting this amazing resource of recovery for our current and younger generations are The National Association of Broadcasters (NBA), Mental Health America, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California’s Mental Health Movement: Each Mind Matters, Bring Change to Mind (bringchange2mind.org), Active Minds, and The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.

The second resource is Walk In My Shoes in Ireland. Even though this resource isn’t based here in the United States, the site reminds us that the prevalence of mental illness is an international issue. Similar to OK2Talk, people can submit their personal stories of living with and managing a mental illness. This resource includes stories that are from youth and adults. In addition to sharing stories and fostering a sense of community, as does OK2Talk, Walk in My Shoes also raises awareness about hearing and learning about others’ experiences with mental illness by encouraging people to walk in shoes that are not necessary theirs; hence, walking in someone’s shoes.

Regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, or race, mental health issues and one’s path towards recovery is a universal experience. Begin and continue the discussion about mental health and mental illness.

Mental health remains a Taboo

Mental health remains a Taboo

Ant’s quote is spot on regarding the way in which mental health is discussed (or better yet, the lack of its discussion in some settings). There are many individuals, families, and organizations (for-profit & non-profit) that have began discussions of mental health. In order to create the change that needs to occur for the advancement of our society, these discussions need not stop or waver when frustrations and challenges arise.

By remaining conscientious of mental health in our personal lives and having an awareness of the policies that further impact the access to treatment, we as a society can create lasting change.

A documentary worth watching

A documentary worth watching

I attended the premiere of this documentary yesterday. The documentary is titled: “A New State of Mind: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness”.

The documentary highlights the stigma that has engulfed individuals throughout California. The people are like you and me; they are from all races, ethnicity, and cultures. The documentary equally discusses the recovery model, which is based upon a strengths-based perspective.

This documentary will officially air on May 30th at 8pm as part of California’s Mental Health Movement. It’s a documentary worth watching.

Visit http://www.eachmindmatters.org for more information.

Educate, Empower, & Recover…. OH MY!

Yesterday, I experienced an interesting moment.
I notified someone, who holds a dear place in my heart, that I will be working with adults who experience severe mental illness next year during my internship. I expected the responses “congratulations” or “that’s awesome”. However, I received those responses and something more: “I hope it doesn’t rub off on you”.

                                 This comment does not stem from ignorance.
                     The comment stems from a lack of knowledge and fear.

First of all, let me state that this individual did not mean the comment to be demeaning or stigmatizing. Yet, the comment got me thinking about the number of people who may also have a similar belief; the belief that mental illnesses are contagious. This idea is beyond inaccurate.

Honestly, the comment caught me off guard. I did not know whether to be upset, angry, or happy. I was upset at the amount of misunderstanding that people with a mental illness experience daily. I was angry at the stigma that is direct towards me and others who work within the mental healthcare system, in addition to those who receive mental health services. And, simultaneously, I was happy.

I felt an odd level of happiness at the comment, “I hope it doesn’t rub off on you”, because the comment provided me with information. The information I gained from hearing this comment is that there remains a need to inform communities and family members about mental illness. The comment has provided me with an opportunity to educate, as well as advocate.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI, 2013) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2012), mental illnesses are conditions that can disturb an individual’s thoughts, feelings, mood, interpersonal skills, and daily functioning. Mental illnesses impact people of all ages, socioeconomic status, race, and religion. Severe mental illnesses include major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders [such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)], and borderline personality disorder.

“Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weaknesses,
lack of character, or poor upbringing”
(NAMI, 2013).

I can not stress enough: recovery from mental illness is possible. Although there are genetic aspects to mental illnesses, as there is with the development of cancerous cells, mental illnesses are NOT contagious like the cold or flu.

 

For more information regarding the mental illnesses mentioned above, please visit the resources listed below:

— American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2012). www.psychiatry.org/mental-health.
— Let’s Talk Facts Brochures. (2005). American Psychiatric Association.
          www.psychiatry.org/mentalhealth/lets-talk-facts-brochures.
— National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2013). www.nami.org
— What is Major Depression. (2013). National Alliance on Mental Illness. 
          http://www.nami.org/factsheets/depression_factsheet.pdf

My wish and hope for you.

image

We all have a story. We all have a truth inside of us that is waiting to be told… one day.

My wish for you is that you share your story with the word when you are ready. When you are ready to share your story, whether you tell only yourself in a journal, a friend, a family member, or the world as I have with my blog, I hope you experience a sense of relief, a sense of triumph, and a release of pain.

I hope one day you will be reminded, in one way or another, the experience you have been through has shaped you into the strong, internally beautiful, and courageous person you are today.

You are never alone in your journey. You are never forgotten in the midst of your struggles.

Share your story. There is someone, out there in this small world, that needs to hear your story just as much as you may need to tell it.